News, Expertise, Tips and More.
- Written by Jeff Binney
Buenes Noches, y Bon Soir
First, a very nice to see you, Sarah Keller last Thursday at the vineyard. Somehow, you just may have read more Jeff’s Corners than I have actually written! Enjoy the Heath wines you purchased, they are something else!
An important part of our job behind the tasting bar is to determine our guests’ palate so we can make suggestions and direct them to wines they will enjoy. This isn’t always easy, partly because there are so many confusing wine terms that mean different things to different people.
It begins with “dry” and “sweet”. We all know “dry” just means that all the fermentable sugars in the grape juice have been converted to alcohol during fermentation. Dry is the opposite of sweet, but it’s easy to relate tannins to dryness in reds, or acid to dryness in whites.
It gets even more confusing when we hear phrases like “off-dry”, “semi-dry”, and “semi-sweet”. These terms have to do with wines that contain “residual sugar”, which is sugar left behind when fermentation is prematurely stopped before it is all converted to alcohol.
Residual sugar (RS) is measured as a percentage. A sweet wine with a residual sugar of 2% has 20 grams of sugar per liter of wine, one with .2% RS has 2 grams/liter.
A wine, and we’re talking almost exclusively about white wine, is considered off-dry between .6 and 1.4% residual sugar. A wine in this range has a slight perception of sweetness.
Wines that are semi-dry are between 1.5 and 3% residual, and a wine between 3 and 5% are semi-sweet. A wine above 5% is considered sweet, and some can be VERY sweet. “Select” and “special select” late harvest wines can be as high as 35% RS or higher.
Late harvest wines are exactly that, wines made from grapes picked late in the growing season. They have a high sugar content, and grapes for “select” late harvest wines must have a minimum of 28% sugar, while “special select” must have at least 35%.
Some of the most coveted, and costly, wines in the world are late harvest dessert wines. Sauternes, from southern Bordeaux, are made from Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon; often both. The great German Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, , and Eiswein are made from Riesling. Gewürztraminer, a much too neglected grape, also produces world-class late harvest wines.
Okay, that’s too many big words; we’ll see you next time...
- Written by Jeff Binney
Good Evening, as Mr. Hitchcock liked to say...
Today is a good day for a brief winery update. Yesterday, Kathy and I were talking with Jason about the 2016 vintage and the busy bottling schedule ahead. Here’s a sneak preview, to be followed by stories and tasting notes right here in Jeff’s Corner, as Ed Sullivan liked to say.
Last week, we bottled the ’15 Rendezvous and Brian brought a bottle up to the tasting room for us after work. After 4 hours in the bottle, it was great, and each hour after that, it was 20% older!
This week, we’ll begin bottling our 2015 Texas Bellissimo, and after checking out the blend sheet, it should be a real beauty. For all you Sangiovese fans, the ’15 is around 53%, slightly more than last year.
Last Saturday, after an early staff meeting filled with GCV updates, laughter, and breakfast tacos, Brian and Jennifer headed off with Jason to do blending trials for the ’15 Serendipity. Jason said the lab trials are done, the percentages fixed, and now it’s time to blend in the tanks.
Next, our dry roses. 2015 was the first vintage for our Ramato and Rose of Sangiovese; both hugely popular, and both with secret cult followings. Some of you might remember, at last years Tank Tasting Party, Kathy (Ms. Ramato) and I (Señor Sangiovese) squared off against each other, and you, our guests, picked the Ramato by a six cork margin as your favorite.
But hold the weddin’! Last year I couldn’t see, and my life was a blur of eye surgeries. Me thinks me wife could have snuck a few corks on me, especially when I knocked over half the table and hid from shyness.
The contest continued on after the Tank Tasting was done and the Rose of Sangiovese ended up winning by a nose!
So, Jason crafted a dry Malbec Rose to square off against the 2015 Rose of Sangiovese for our Tank Tasting showdown March 18. Remember the pop-gun pistols that shot corks with strings? All is fair in love and dry rose.
- Written by Jeff Binney
Hey, Hey, Hey, it’s Cuvee Day!
The new 2016 is here, and after tasting it I’m certain it will fill the giant shoes of the much heralded 2015. We’ll check it out in a minute, but first a vintage update.
Last Monday night, Kath and I pulled the cork on a 2012 Mosaic. It was fabulous with meatloaf, garlic/Gorgonzola mashers, and caramelized onions. If you have one, now is a great time to drink it.
Now, back to our Cuvee Blanc. As we know, “cuvee” means blend, and it’s interesting to note that the last three vintages have been quite different; each showcasing Jason’s amazing skills when it comes to this centuries old art.
The 2016 is about 47% Viognier, 19% Pinot Grigio, 18% Sauvignon Blanc, 7% Muscat Canelli, and for the first time some Marsanne and Trebbianno. The ’15 was much more Pinot driven at about 45%.
Like the ’15, the 2016 is a brilliant pale yellow with exceptional clarity. It is an elegant wine, very lean and sleek. Aromas of caramel, apricot, peach, and honey are layered and complex. As the wine opens up in the glass, wildflowers and orange blossom emerge.
The ’16 Cuvee is crisp and delicate with a subtle mouthfeel. It shows intricate fruit flavors with medium-high acid, causing it to race across our palate. The delicate finish is a lingering tease, and we can’t wait for the next sip.
Kathy and I really liked this wine. It’s young and will develop nicely in the bottle the next few months, but is already a beauty. Serving temp for this is your choice; more austere at 45*, much fruitier at 50.
Let’s sauté some mussels (and maybe scallops) in this wine, with garlic butter, and toss it with linguine. Some garlic/parmesan bread might be nice as well to soak it all up. Cheers!